Interview with Javier Abio

Javier Abio. Co-Director and Associate at Neo2

Interview with Javier Abio, co-founder and Publisher of Neo2 magazine.

Javier Abio is intuitive and free-spirited, if there is one thing that excites him it’s travel. He is one of the founders of the Ipsum Planet studio, in 1994, together with whose team he created the Neo2 magazine, which ever since has been informing us about fashion, design, music, art, interior design, architecture and cinema. The magazine that marked a trend in Spain at the time includes an online edition for some time now which allows it to be read on mobile devices. When Javier sets his sights on something he doesn’t hold back. This year in 2018 he’ll be part of the jury for the 12th GANDIABLASCO International Outdoor Furniture Design Contest, bringing his futuristic vision to the panel.

We met years ago, since we started collaborating with your magazine Neo2. How did you start off in the publishing world?

Well, it started as a hobby. In 1994 we founded a design studio called Ipsum Planet and in our free time we started to put together a fanzine that at the beginning was called Neomania and later Neo2. We didn’t have a notion about how to make a magazine but we were very enthusiastic. The first years we learned a lot and it was a challenge earning a living from the magazine, after about 8 years we were able to live our dream.

What is Neo2 for you?

It’s a magazine that looks at creative trends that uses paper and digital platforms. Neo2 is a franchised magazine, just like most of the magazines on sale at news stands here in this country. It’s a 100% national title. We like the New and Current concept.

The choice of content is a key element and even more so for Neo2, what criteria do you follow?

In principle all the members of the magazine team work on different creative sectors. After many years we realised that having an editor for each theme was important as well as agreeing on having a knowledgeable criteria when selecting material to publish. This criterion changes according to what we see as being over exposed in other media.

Neo 2 magazine
Neo 2 magazine

Fashion is clearly a very important part of the magazine. Do you think it’s on the vanguard of establishing trends?

From its beginnings fashion has occupied an important place (in Neo2), but often it was just an excuse to shoot photo-spreads where there was a lot more going on than fashion. A fashion spread is a creative exercise where many disciplines come into play, photography, art direction, make-up, lighting, set design and also styling.
When it comes to trends my thinking is that every creative discipline marks its own trends. Sometimes they are shared but not always. Right now there’s a 90s inspired trend happening in fashion as well as graphic design but in interior and furniture design the focus is on the 80s. What’s most important is that while creatives may look at every era they should bring a current and personal vision.

Online press versus offline press, the war of the worlds? How do you see the future of the communication media?

It’s clear that we are witnessing a genuine industrial revolution. The way of consuming and offering services or products has changed in many sectors. The good thing about communication media is that it was among the first to evolve. It’s one of the sectors that has made the greatest effort. Readers don’t want to pay any more they want free and instantaneous information. It’s taken a while to figure out but it couldn’t be clearer. That has a positive side, one that has now bottomed out. Nothing can be cheaper than free. On the other hand in many other sectors that conflict of the free, or almost free is still going on.
And now I’m going to tell you about my Black Mirror episode:
In the near future the poor will be able to use digital platforms for consulting with a lawyer, a doctor, or a plumbing tutorial … better off people can call a real lawyer or can go to the doctors for a consultation. That is to say that shortly the digital will no longer be considered cool, while the analogue will be a privilege for the few. That’s already happening with magazines …that’s why people put photos on Instagram with printed magazines, because not everybody buys them anymore.

You are a restless person, what other projects do you have on the go at the moment?

This year 2018, we have launched a design awards to promote new designers working in fashion and product design for the habitat. We are organising a big party for February 13th and an exhibition that will go on for a month, with the most representative work of the award winners that can be seen in the Galileo centre, Madrid. It will coincide with the Madrid Design Festival which will have its first edition this year.

What design, art or fashion pieces do you identify with? What inspires you? And what is the creative process behind your work?

I am a person who is constantly changing references and tastes. One year I can like Marcel Breuer and two years later be completely fed up with him. The same happens with music and almost everything else generally. I hate the line “be yourself”, I much prefer “ don’t be yourself” given that being oneself is really boring. Right now I love New Memphis, in relation to its interior design and furniture, although I can’t see it lasting more than a few years. In terms of graphic design I like ‘ugly’ and anti-design from an informed perspective. I believe that one has to live the moment and not be too nostalgic, it’s the only way that things can evolve.
Design thinking is a good approach to a working system that can be applied to any area: Empathise, define, conceive, prototype, test …

What outdoor spaces (terraces, gardens, nature parks …) would you recommend for enjoying the outdoors in spring, summer, autumn and summer?

I cycle a lot in Madrid’s Casa de Campo, there are areas there that are truly spectacular that few people know about. I used to like Talampaya, a natural reserve in Argentina where I spent last summer. I would love to do the Camí de Cavalls (horse’s way) in Minorca, it’s one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen.

With this 12th edition of the Contest we’ll be awarding ingenuity with a design that improves the experience of enjoying the outdoors. Does any emerging trend come to mind in relation to that?

One of my passions is cooking over a log fire. If I were a designer I would undoubtedly go that direction. A system for being able to use a log fire in the country side, or a log fired oven for use in the summer or winter. A trend right now in relation to food is Paleolithic cooking … well, I guess log cooking is somehow connected to that (laughs).

And to finish, we are curious about your thoughts on GANDIABLASCO.

GANDIABLASCO is a model to follow for many companies and not only in the furniture design sector. It’s to be admired the way that a family company like your own which for 76 years has continued to evolve, coming up with new products. From the beginning you valued design on its own merit. You never stop coming up with ideas and what’s more important … bringing those ideas to fruition.